Over the last year our company has been working on a system to develop better commercial real estate websites. It started with a small project and grew into a very large system that we have developed to give better user experiences and better SEO for broker websites.
Old IDX Standards
When we started looking into the issue, we found that most commercial real estate websites were using IDX solutions. IDX stands for Internet Data Exchange and it provides access to MLS listings via IDX servers. What most real estate businesses don't know is that those MLS search results give no value to their website for SEO because all the data is stored on the IDX servers NOT on their website. Google knows this and won't give any credit for displaying listings on your website.
New RETS Standards
Over time new standards were developed that allow data from MLS listings to be imported directly into websites using RETS (real estate technology standards). This basically means that we can now import listings directly into websites using an API which is a data feed of MLS listings. The problem was that - until now - you needed a proprietary provider to build out a platform and house your website on that platform.
The issue with propriety systems is that web design technology is always changing. Proprietary systems that were built using their own import system become antiquated quickly and then you have to pay for a whole new website. Platforms simply can't keep up with open source software like WordPress. Until now neither of the two options were very good.
After extensive research we thought that the best solution would be to have MLS data imported directly into a WordPress website.
This seemed simple at first. The MLS company had an API and there should be plugins already built that could do this for us. We would put together the website like we had done for hundreds of clients and design the website for the brokerage. We would have the best of both worlds with listings imported as posts into WordPress.
We couldn't find a system to import listings into WordPress. So we decided to build our own.
Building on an API is a lot of work for software development. We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into when we started. Most of the challenges involved mapping the data into the WordPress posts so that the system could understand and display the information correctly. Those challenges took a lot of time to solve but I'm happy to say we've completed the first version of the system and have developed the first prototype.
It's much easier to understand when you can see how it looks. Visit our prototype directly, which is located here: http://softwiredcloud.com/. This demo is built on Commercial Brokers Association MLS in Seattle, WA.
Moving forward we are looking to find some key commercial brokers who want to work with us to develop the system further. Being a partner will have many benefits including access to new systems that aren't generally available to the public.
If you are interested in becoming a partner with us please send us a message so we can connect.